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ASU wins eighth straight with victory over Oregon State

January 05, 2008

By Matt Storey, ASU Media Relations

The ASU men's basketball team defeated Oregon State 72-53 Saturday to extend its winning streak to eight games and improve to 12-2 (2-0) on the season.

The Sun Devils held the Beavers to 33 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers while keeping their opponent under 60 points for the third consecutive game.

"I thought the key was our defense," head coach Herb Sendek said. "I thought our guys did a really good job of talking, communicating and adjusting to the variety of things that Oregon State presented to us."

Freshman guard James Harden led the scoring and matched his career high with 24 points, while junior forward Jeff Pendergraph had 18 points on 6-7 shooting and nine rebounds in the victory.

ASU shot 51 percent from the field despite making just three of its 14 3-point attempts in the game.

"Offensively, I thought we did an excellent job of going inside, on a night where we weren't ringing them in from 3," Sendek said.

The Sun Devils never trailed in the game, and an early 8-0 run gave them a 20-11 lead with just under ten minutes left in the first half. That run was keyed by sophomore center Eric Boateng, who made back-to-back baskets upon entering the game.

With just under eight minutes to play in the half and ASU leading 23-15, Pendergraph picked up his second foul and went to the bench. However, Boateng continued to play well in his place and the Sun Devils were able to maintain their eight-point lead into halftime.

"Boateng was excellent off the bench," Pendergraph said. "He brought a lot of fire and got everybody going. He just brought a big spark for us."

ASU also leaned on Harden's offense in the first half with Pendergraph limited to just eight minutes, as he scored 16 of his 24 points before halftime.

"He has a great feel for the game," Sendek said of Harden. "It's a function of his unselfishness. He never gets caught up in himself."

The Sun Devils then began the second half with six straight points, and they led by double figures most of the half. The Beavers got within 11 with seven minutes left, but ASU went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes to stretch the lead to 64-44 and put the game away.

Next up for the Sun Devils is a Wednesday night meeting with No. 21 Arizona (10-4, 1-1) at Wells Fargo Arena.

"There's a lot of talk about the rivalry," Harden said. "Like Coach said, it's not really a rivalry, because they've won [24 of the last 25 games]. We're just trying to change things around."